Sri Lanka’s threats to Journalists – the Paul Harris episode
Posted on December 9th, 2013

Shenali D Waduge

In November 2002, a writer and military analyst working in Sri Lanka between 1996 and 2002 as special correspondent for Jane’s Intelligence Review and the London Daily Telegraph was given 24 hours notice by the Ranil Wickremasinghe Government to leave the country. The reason for his cancelation of visa was that Paul Harris was critical of the 2002 Cease Fire Agreement and the LTTE. Two years later, LTTE leadership issued a death sentence on Paul Harris for his writings and speeches and he has been hunted by the LTTE death squads and was under protection of the British secret service shifting locations. Therefore we question the doublespeak of those currently spearheading media freedom and rights of journalists in the context of their treatment towards Paul Harris at the instructions of a terrorist outfit.

The headline of the 2002 Island editorial read as follows Much of the local and, particularly international, goodwill that has accrued to Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe has been because of his liberal attitude towards the media. Whereas the People’s Alliance under President Chandrika Kumaratunga became notorious for the harsh manner in which they treated the media, Mr. Wickremasinghe, even in the Opposition, was in touch with the media and pledged to liberalise media laws and dismantle certain institutions that were considered inimical to freedom of expression.’ The same editorial goes on to say that the action on Paul Harris would ‘smear’ his image. That is exactly what it did and all those associated with the action remain people with tarnished images.

Let us note that Paul Harris was one of the first to bring to the open loopholes in the Cease Fire Agreement bringing to light the manner LTTE would maneuver itself. Harris also accused the Wickremasinghe Government of ‘inaction’ for the ‘greatest give-away in history’. So the Ranil Wickremasinghe Government that now talks of media freedom and journalist rights at the instructions of the LTTE and Anton Balasingham declared Harris a ‘threat to national security’ and Harris was asked to leave the country. The present foreign minister then justice minister simply sat silent. He ‘unwittingly became the most effective propagandist for the LTTE within country. ‘.

It was the same person who used ‘threat to national security’ as a reason to evict Paul Harris from Sri Lanka.

Paul Harris technically addresses the LTTE Organization as “Committed Terrorists”. Rightfully he states that the LTTE terrorists approved themselves time and again to be “Unreformed and Brutal”.

The President’s office (Chandrika Kumaratunga) issued a statement on November 6 accusing the government of preventing freedom of the press. In part, it stated, “Freedom of expression and the right of dissent are bedrock requirements for a democratic and free society and this insidious silencing of an often lone voice against the conventional wisdom of the government is a serious erosion of media freedom and (a) set back for democracy in Sri Lanka.”

Some quotes from Paul Harris:

“I’ve seen the blood and miserly with my eyes which terrorists inflict on those people whose interests they often claim to represent. I don’t like what terrorists stand for and don’t like their methods; and I do believe that their very methods intrinsically, deny terrorists the capability of engaging in any meaningful peace process”.

“All the predictions I made ……are now becoming realities. They have become realities in the form of continuation of the war machinery and the use of civilians and school children to attack military camps.”

 “This is in stark contrast to the supine efforts of previous governments who flinched from taking on the LTTE which had, accordingly, been able to engender a myth of invulnerability. Only six or seven years ago, it appeared that Sri Lanka might be terminally divided: a fate which would have doomed this unique and wonderful country as a sovereign entity.’

 “The loss of any civilian life is a matter for profound regret and, inevitably, many innocents will be victims of this final round of the conflict. However, we must not forget the tens f thousands of civilians who have already died in a war that has gone on far too long. The end of this war and the extermination of a longstanding terrorist threat must now be the priority. It is disingenuous of the British and US governments, supposedly dedicated to the worldwide war on terror, to call for a ceasefire at this vital final stage in the conflict.”

 “Foreign journalists who have suddenly arrived in Sri Lanka at this late stage in a conflict that has gone on for decades are questioning on channels like the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera whether real peace can emerge from ‘the military solution’. In daily broadcasts they are claiming there is no other Tamil leadership except the LTTE. Such observations betray their limited understanding of the conflict. If there be no alternative leaders, it is because the LTTE has pursued a specific policy of the eradication of all Tamil politicians who did not adopt their creed of repression and lack of democratic choice. Some of the most brilliant members of the Tamil community have been cut down, men like Lakshman Kadirgamar, who I was privileged to know and work with, and countless others in Jaffna who bravely stood out against the brutality of the Tigers.”

 “I believe the enormously talented Tamil community of Sri Lanka is fully able to produce leaders of integrity and ability once one man is removed from the scene. I refer, of course, to Velupillai Prabhakaran, one of the most vicious terrorists the world has ever produced. Let us not forget, the LTTE is a one man band representing the views and aspirations of its brutal leader. The LTTE has never offered any sort of a future for the majority of Tamils.’

 ‘Hopefully, at an early date we shall see the capture or death of Velupillai Prabhakaran, who has inflicted so much misery on all the peoples of Sri Lanka. To claim him as the representative of the majority of Tamils is a travesty of reality.”

 “Whatever justification there might have been for the demand for “Eelam” has been completely removed by the depraved conduct of the Tiger leadership. Operating a rigid totalitarian system of which Stalin would have been proud, the Tigers have systematically hunted down and assassinated prominent Tamils who supported a united, multi-ethnic Sri Lanka. Well before al-Qaeda popularised the suicide bomb, this form of terrorism was pioneered by the Tigers, who have also made extensive use of child soldiers and of child suicide bombers. Prabhakaran is said to personally choose boys aged 14 to 16 for recruitment to the “Black Tigers” suicide bomb squads.”

 Paul Harris present at the first interview given by Prabakaran in Kilinochchi writing to the Telegraph says Prabhakaran said Sri Lanka’s Tamils, who are mostly Hindu, have cultural roots in India. “India is our fatherland,”  

 Paul Harris returned to Sri Lanka on the invitation of World Alliance for Peace in Sri Lanka and Sansadaya (Forum) to attend a conference and delivered a lecture on LTTE.

DELIGHTFULLY IMPERFECT is a book written by Paul Harris launched in 2007 giving a unique perspective on politics and conflict in Sri Lanka.  (30minute video clip by Paul Harris on LTTE)

It was Paul Harris who first revealed that the GLPeiris-Ranil Wickremasinghe ‘peace’ arrangement with Prabakaran was the greatest give away in history! Peace cannot be achieved by giving a ‘piece’ of the country. Along the years so many others have voiced similar predictions about the representatives chosen to defend the nation and the ideologies they end up pushing into effect using their official status and the dangers such people are likely to cause. That these warnings have fallen on deaf ears is one of the key reasons why Sri Lanka has failed to build up a proper defense against baseless allegations that have been the source for humiliations. We do not expect the people who enjoy state luxuries at the expense of the tax payer to be silent when the country is being attacked and leave it to the President and the Defense Secretary to be the only 2 to come forward to respond to the attacks.

It is no better a time than now for the Government to take stock of all those who are tasked to defend the nation for it is their inabilities, incapabilities and lack of will that is primarily responsible for the current imbroglio and we continue to wonder why these same people are being kept to create further catastrophes.



5 Responses to “Sri Lanka’s threats to Journalists – the Paul Harris episode”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Well said!

    PH did a lot of work to bring LTTE activities to world attention.

    Guess what!

    After getting rid of PH as Jane’s SL correspondent, that SWINE PIGBAL ATHAS was made the correspondent!!! That was the second agenda of TEs.

    In 2002 and 2003 PH had a better understanding and was a REAL PATRIOT THAN most SL leaders including MR.

  2. jayasiri Says:

    Thank you Shenali…. I am new to Lankan politics at that time. I was away in the UK & then after short spell came to Canada.
    Judging by your description, Paul Harris is a great journalist & a gentleman., compared ones like McCare & Channel 4. ha ha>>

    WELL before even knowing Ranil Wick, I have made up my mind in the few years I came to know him not personally but through newspapers. A guy being an Anglican, GIVING 2/3 of the country to LTTE, just to be PM for a short while, WHAT SORT of deal & what sort of man is he?

    I cannot fathom Sri Lankans STILL vote for him mostly the COLOMBO CROWD who thinks immitating SUDDAHS
    ( British) is a great thing. NOW we know what sort party UNP is, and even THEN President Chandrika toleratd so much without taking immediate action FIRE the OLD MAN.

    My relatives sometimes write about important news & how TN leaders are entering Sri Lanka without anyone noticng them & WITHOUT PROPER DOCUMENTS.

    Our Govt. at that time must be a SHAKY coalition just to get TAMILS to agree to any deal. NOW at least we have the conculsuion of the war, BUT THE PEACE is far from us. Our leaders TODAY like to preach so much BUT no concrete action. That is why we in expat community together with people like Shanali, GOMISIRI & other legal minds should present an altrenative to President & UPLF govt.

    They want to carry on as IF WINNING THE WAR is enough for people vote for them everytime. This is far from the TRUTH, after 4year-6 months winning the war, people are STILL suffering just to put some meals on the table. Poverty & malnutrition have taken over lives of general public in Sri Lanka.

    I hope this article will show that ALL journalists are NOT & cannot be bought by LTTE & their supporters.

    Thank you all……………J

  3. R.M.W Says:

    Sri Lanka’s threats to Journalists – the Paul Harris episode
    Appropriate to this episode; I met with “Paul Harris” in Oslo Invited by WAPS and He personally informed me of Ranil Wikramasinghe’s great betrayal. There was Falk Rovik of R-Senter in Norway who did the main spade of coordinating and paid a huge price for it. Ranjith Soysa, and H. L. D. Mahindapala were in attendance. Also Mahinda Gunasekera the President of Sri Lankan United National Association.
    In fact I must mention the people who should have been present, but marked by their very absence from this vital meeting;
    Eric Solheim, The “so called” peace facilitator, Sri Lankan Ambassador to Norway, and the Indian Ambassador to Norway.
    Indeed at that point of history, we were fighting with our Hands tight behind our back, in the heart land of LTTE supporting Prime Minister of Norway; Kjell Magne Bondevik, a Norwegian Lutheran minister and politician (Christian Democratic Party .
    The year was 2004 and find terrorist Boss Prabakaran planning to travel to Oslo and spend x’mas with Hans Westborg. That is how he escaped Tsunami it hit Sri Lanka, (on December 25, 2004)!
    I propose that WAPS organization should take note of the names and some sort of action against S.O.B Ranil the betrayer, and his henchmen!).
    Mahinda Weerasinghe

  4. Sooriarachi Says:

    Anyone who dare to expose the brutality of the LTTE terrorists was eliminated by the terrorists. On the same token, anyone who repeated LTTE false propaganda received rewards. Even today, those who dare to tell the truth and not agree with the LTTE are threatened or ridiculed. The most recent victims of slander by these terrorists and their friends in AI, HRW, UNHRC, were the respected UK politician from their Upper House, who visited Sri Lanka and the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot, both whom dared to contradict the Tiger separatists. These LTTE terrorists and their friends are the people who are now talking about democracy and human rights and rubbing shoulders with disgraceful Western politicians willing to accept favours from the Tigers and remain in power. The latest foreign visitor to support Sri Lanka’s progress is the Japanese politician Mr Akasi. Very soon he too would get threatened or condemned by the LTTE and their friends, in their attempt to scare Mr Akasi into silence.

  5. Ananda-USA Says:

    We Sri Lankans suggest that Britain follows Mandela’s example of Reconciliation and RECONCILE with the Nazi’s and the Al-Quaida!

    When that has been done, come back and ask Sri Lanka again to RECONCILE with UNREPENTANT Murderous Racist Separatists trying to create an Apartheid Bantustan in Sri Lanka.

    Until then, Britain should really mind its own business … instead of trying to advance its Neo-Colonialist Ambitions in the developing world … dishing out advice to others it NEVER FOLLOWS itself!

    Britain suggests Sri Lanka to follow Mandela’s example for reconciliation

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Dec 11, London: Sri Lanka should follow Mandela’s example to bring peace and unity to the country’s people, the UK government suggests.

    Paying tribute to the former South African leader, late Nelson Mandela in the House of Commons of UK parliament on Monday, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Sri Lanka should emulate South Africa’s truth and reconciliation process.

    Clegg said that Nelson Mandela laid down a “blueprint” that has made it possible for other divided communities, such as in Northern Ireland, to reject violence, overcome their differences and make a fresh beginning.

    “That is why I hope, in communities where people are still struggling to replace violence and conflict with peace and stability, that the principles of forgiveness and reconciliation that Mandela embodied are followed by others too,” he said.

    He noted that recently the House debated the alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

    “Surely there could be no better way for that country to heal its wounds and bring peace and unity to all its people than to follow Mandela’s example and emulate South Africa’s truth and reconciliation process,” the deputy Prime Minister of Britain said.

    Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, already showing interest in learning more about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa and its process and the outcome, discussed the South Africa’s model with that country’s President Jacob Zuma when the two leaders met on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo last month.

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